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The OPIC Blog

Monthly news wrap-up: September 2012

Last month, the General Assembly of the United Nations convened to begin the General Debate of the 67th Session and leaders from 193 countries congregated in New York City to discuss some of the world’s toughest issues. As reported by the State Department, some of the United States’ priorities include building on the progress made toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals – which include ending hunger and poverty, creating universal education and environmental sustainability and more –  and on the discussions of Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. Fittingly, much of the conversations in the news over the last few months have been around food and water security, in addition to sustainable development and infrastructure, which are a few of the major issues in the spotlight at the UNGA – and key areas for OPIC investment.

In early September, The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) joined the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in calling upon the private sector to increase investments in agriculture, saying this step was “vital to winning the fight against hunger.” FAO’s Director General José Graziano da Silva said, “There can be no freedom from hunger – there can be no food security – without the active participation of all sectors of society, including the private sector.”

Last month OPIC highlighted our ongoing work to forge public-private partnerships to address some tough development challenges in a  guest post for the Center for Strategic and International Studies blog, Pathways to Productivity, where we discussed our work with Forestry and Agricultural Investment Management (FAIM). By developing a sustainable business in Rwanda dedicated to growing and selling virus-free plant cultures and providing plant-care guidance with improved agronomy practices, FAIM hopes to help farmers increase incomes and improve food security, while addressing the country’s food deficit and malnutrition rates.

In addition to food itself, access to clean water is critical to food security. The Economic Times describes several of the findings from a recent InterAction Council (IAC) report, “The Global Water Crisis: Addressing an Urgent Security Issue.” The report found that in less than two decades, the water demand in India and China, two of the world’s most populous countries, will exceed the supply. According to the IAC, as population growth worsens the strain on water resources, with approximately one billion more mouths to feed worldwide by 2025, global agriculture alone will require another 1,000 cubic kilometers of water per year.

Countries all over the world are struggling against shortages of clean water.  OPIC has supported several projects that speak to this issue, including the rehabilitation of nearly half the municipal water purification systems in Ghana; the distribution of water-conserving irrigation equipment in Mexico; and a desalination facility in Algeria. We invite you to read about more of the projects OPIC’s board approved at the September meeting, which focused on priority sectors such as renewable resources; food security and safe drinking water; small and medium sized businesses; and the growing middle class in emerging markets.

A reminder, if you’re a small business owner, we invite you to learn more at the Expanding Horizons event on Oct. 8 in Chicago. To keep up with the daily headlines and stories impacting our work, make sure to follow our Facebook and Twitter feeds and feel free to post and message us.

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